As a widely-recognized great place to work, Southwest Airlines is fortunate to receive a high volume of interest in Flight Attendant positions. More than 20,000 candidates applied in 2016. When the position was finally posted again in February 2018, more than 28,000 external candidates applied. Southwest Airlines is known for hiring for attitude and training for skill, but the airline says it will never put skill over attitude. They look for People with clearly-defined expectations the airline has defined as Living and Working the Southwest Way. Living the Southwest Way means having a Warrior Spirit, a Servant’s Heart, and a Fun-LUVing Attitude. Specific behaviors are attributed to each of those expectations. For Warrior Spirit, it’s striving to be the best, displaying a sense of urgency, and never giving up. To demonstrate a Servant’s Heart, an Employee will follow The Golden Rule, treat others with respect, and embrace the Southwest Family. Southwest Employees are known for Fun-LUVing Attitudes, and that includes being a passionate Team Player, not taking oneself too seriously, and celebrating successes. Working the Southwest Way includes wowing customers by delivering world-class Hospitality, creating memorable connections, and being famous for friendly service. Read on to hear firsthand from Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant Brian O’Donoghue about the journey to becoming a Flight Attendant at the nation’s largest domestic air carrier.*
Why a Flight Attendant at Southwest?
My interest in interacting with people in a hands-on environment, traveling, and meeting new people prompted me to apply for a Flight Attendant position. I had some insight into what the job required—my wife, Maria is a Flight Attendant at another airline. And, I’d gotten to know many Flight Attendants through my job as a TSA Agent at the Denver International Airport
When I made the decision to become a Flight Attendant, I knew Southwest Airlines was the place for me. Quite simply, it is a great place to work and the best in the industry. There’s an enthusiasm, spirit, and a company pride that is unmatched anywhere else. I can honestly say I look forward to going to work every day.
The application process
The application is a multi-step process. I started by creating a profile at southwest.com/careers. Then, on the day the position would be posted, I sat in front of my computer ready to submit my application the minute it opened. I knew in the past the position attracted enormous interest.
Upon successfully submitting my application, I was contacted via email by a People Department (HR) Representative. We communicated over a couple of months, and then I had a phone interview. The phone interview went well, and the next step involved a face-to-face interview in Dallas with the Recruiting Team. The face-to-face interview came about eight months after I initially submitted my application.
A few days after my interview in Dallas, I received a call saying that I had been recommended as a candidate and would be invited to training, pending the successful completion of a background check and drug test. This took some time to complete. I received my new hire package shortly after I was notified that I had completed the hiring process. The package contained a lot of valuable information about training, the expectations and requirements to be a successful candidate, and information on material needed to study for testing during training. Some of the study material included airport codes and public announcements that are necessary to memorize. I was ready to begin training!
Training at Southwest Airlines University
I have to admit that I had some nerves as I was leaving for training, but I was also excited. I was heading off to begin a career I had wanted for several years. Over the next four weeks of training, I made lifelong friends and memories.
The four weeks of training was undoubtedly stressful and challenging, but the feeling of happiness when we graduated is one of the highlights of my life to date. Our Trainers were excellent and pushed us all the way to being the best Flight Attendants in the business. I think of my Trainers as friends, and I am genuinely grateful for everything they did for us.
My first flight
I had the same nerves ahead of my first flight that I did going into training, but knew I was well prepared. I had a great Crew that was supportive and helpful. The Crew gave me advice and encouragement the entire three days I was with them. Over the past several months, I have flown with some genuinely great people, and the fantastic thing about being a Flight Attendant is you continue to learn every time you go to work. Every flight I learn something new from the Crew who has often been doing it for years before me.
I feel very fortunate to be where I am. Southwest Airlines is a fantastic company to work for—second to none—and the Flight Attendant position is a great one. I am grateful for the opportunity. It is by far the best job I have ever had. To me, it is more than just a great job–it is a career. I love going to work every day, and I sincerely hope that I am blessed to have many years with Southwest as a Flight Attendant. ACN
*Ranking based on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s most recent reporting of domestic originating passengers boarded. During peak travel seasons